February is a grey and dreary month. Snow, if there is any, turns to slush; any residual holiday cheer is long gone; and recalling what the sun looks like—let alone what it feels like—becomes increasingly difficult. This is probably why there are so many February holidays, from the state-sanctioned forced-fun-with-your-Family Day (at least in Ontario, sorry, B.C.), to the most commercial of all romantic days, Valentine’s Day, to National Surf and Turf Day (February 29, all you crustacean enthusiasts). Rounding out this group of merry observances, is, of course, Women in Horror Recognition Month.
Now three years old, WiHM’s mission is to expand “opportunities for filmmakers, artists, and fans by raising awareness about the changing roles for women through filmmaking, writing, events, and networking.” It’s also an excuse to watch some great films.
Besides sci-fi, perhaps, there is no other film genre so male-dominated. While studies of the genre changed drastically in the 1980s with the likes of Robin Wood (reclaiming the low genre as a site of incredible cultural interest) and, later, Carol Clover (with her theories of feminist empowerment in the “Final Girl”), horror is still thought of as a boys’ club, made for boys, by boys. When one thinks of women in horror at all, the image that comes to mind is usually a blonde getting impaled (either sexually or violently, or both). WiHM set out to challenge that, by drawing attention to empowered women in front of and behind the camera.
In celebration of WiHM, Rue Morgue’s Cinemacabre will be screening a 35-mm print of the feminist slasher cult classic Slumber Party Massacre. (In fact, Jovanka Vuckovic, former editor-in-chief of Rue Morgue, is on WiHM’s board of directors). Written by American novelist and feminist activist Rita Mae Brown, and directed by Amy Holden Jones, SPM is constructed as parody of the horror genre, with gratuitous nudity, gratuitous kills, and gratuitous phallic objects all over the place. The plot (girl’s basketball team has a sleepover, massacre ensues) isn’t complicated. But the film’s subtext is in its excess—from the blatant boobies to the comic dialogue. As an added bonus, Holden will be calling in via Skype for a discussion after the screening. Not bad for a Thursday in February.